IBM has been in competition with Google and other big tech firms to build a powerful quantum computer and has just announced a milestone achievement. Dario Gil, the leader of IBM’s quantum computing and artificial intelligence research division announced that the scientists have successfully built and measured a processor prototype with 50 quantum bit or qubits. This is the first time a quantum computer has been built at this scale.
Quantum computing is still in its early phases and used quantum physics to perform calculations at high speeds. “Quantum computing promises to be able to solve certain problems – such as chemical simulations and types of optimization – that will forever be beyond the practical reach of classical machines,” IBM said.
The IBM Q team has pioneered a new way to look at chemistry problems using quantum hardware. The company also announced that it will allow customers to access a slightly slower version of the system online for the first time. “We are, and always have been, focused on building technology with the potential to create value for our clients and the world,’ said Dario Gil. “The ability to reliably operate several working quantum systems and putting them online was not possible just a few years ago. Now, we can scale IBM processors up to 50 qubits due to tremendous feats of science and engineering. These latest advances show that we are quickly making quantum systems and tools available that could offer an advantage for tackling problems outside the realm of classical machines.”
Seth Lloyd, a mechanical engineer from MIT says that IBM would still probably have some glitches to work out but the announcement is a sign of significant progress and cannot be undermined. The systems available online for clients will have a 20 qubit processor. The firm said that over 60,000 users have run over 1.7M quantum experiments and have generated over 35 third-part research publications using their system.
Users have registered from over 1500 universities, 300 high schools, and 300 private institutions worldwide, many of whom are accessing the IBM Q experience as part of their formal education. “I use the IBM Q experience and QISKit as an integral part of my classroom teaching on quantum computing, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is. In prior years, the course was interesting theoretically, but felt like it described some far off future,” said Andrew Houck, professor of electrical engineering, Princeton University. Thanks to this incredible resource that IBM offers, I have students run actual quantum algorithms on a real quantum computer as part of their assignments!”
Matt Johnson, CEO of QC Ware said “Being able to work on IBM’s quantum hardware and have access through an open source platform like QISKit has been crucial in helping us to understand what algorithms–and real-world use cases–might be viable to run on near-term processors, Simulators don’t currently capture the nuances of the actual quantum hardware platforms, and nothing is more convincing for a proof-of-concept than results obtained from an actual quantum processor.”